Five Art House Movies to Troll Your Mainstream Friends With

Okay, so me and my friends are movie geeks. We don't hide it. We revel in it. We also have friends who see maybe one or two movies a year, and whenever they do, it's always the most mainstream pablum imaginable. Nothing wrong with the mainstream - we see a lot of those too - but they'll be attracted to the bad, disappointing mainstream. And yet, they'll still ask for recommendations from us. Not that we ever expect them to take them to heart. These suggestions are forgotten well before they feel the urge to watch another movie. So we started to joke that we should invite them over to watch movies and always make it the most opaque art house films imaginable until Zack (ah damn, I went and named him) doesn't know what cinema is supposed to be anymore. Here are a few choices taken mostly from my collection. My only rule is that I have to think they are watchable and interesting; nothing I actually find terrible or boring.
What we tell Zack: There's this planet and it's sending ghosts up to a space station.
What Zack gets: Hey, what Muggle doesn't like sci-fi flicks? Well, standing at almost three hours, Andrei Tarkovsky's original Solaris is less about a living planet making contact with the crew of a space station than it is about nostalgia for Earth, and through a metaphorical back door, for pre-Soviet Russia. The film's glacial pacing forces you to stare at things for so long, you start to hallucinate. I find it fascinating. Most will find it so boring they'll want to claw their eyes out. It probably doesn't help that it's in Russian. Muggles do hate to read subtitles.
Russian Ark
What we tell Zack: It's amazing, it's a movie done in just one continuous shot!
What Zack gets: Yes, another Russian film, but I've got to include this one because it's a beautiful enigma unless you're a Russian history or art scholar. Essentially, the POV character we never see walks into the Russian State Hermitage Museum and in that one continuous shot, walks through various rooms, each apparently in a different time frame, Czarist balls adjacent to art exhibits adjacent to WWII bunkers. The film is a disjointed history of Russia and Russian culture, a portrait that doesn't tackle its subject in a conventional narrative. It's amazing, but perhaps confounding stuff.
What we tell Zack: A cabin in the woods type movie where nature takes revenge on a couple for letting their child die.
What Zack gets: I think I like Lars von Trier's Melancholia more, and it almost took the spot, but Antichrist is deeply upsetting, and subverts what the Mundanes expect when sitting down to watch a horror movie. You jump off the deep end very quickly, with a black and white sequence, a child's death, and brief pornographic content. Then you're off to the woods for a slow burn deconstruction of a relationship, ending with genitalia-related body horror. Worse, there's no overt Antichrist in the film, and exploring that puzzle leads you to the disturbing realization that the movie is about misogyny, in such a way as to make you squirm.
A Zed and Two Naughts
What we tell Zack: Nothing. By this time he doesn't trust us anyway.
What Zack gets: I could have put any of Peter Greenaway's films on here, and I freely admit I picked this one because of its stomach-churning time lapse photography of animals rotting. But this story of brothers losing their wives in a car accident, and the ensuing meditation on symmetry has more than that going for it. How about an obsession with Dutch painters? And a love affair between the brothers and a one-legged woman? And the world represented as an ark or zoo? Arresting, often shocking visuals won't make the medicine go down any smoother.
The Holy Mountain
What we tell Zack: Is he even listening anymore?
What Zack gets: Alejandro Jodorowsky's masterpiece is a Buddhist fable about a Christ-like man seeking enlightenment, and it's a psychedelic experience filled with arcane mystical symbolism. 'nuff said, perhaps. If I were really sadistic, I've have presented Fando y Lis, an early and frankly irritating effort by the same director, or if I were still trying to lull Zack into a false sense of security, the western, El Topo, which is actually, yes, another Buddhist fable about seeking enlightenment.

Obviously, there are many runners-up. I might have put Wong Kar-Wai on here, perhaps starting with 2046 since it almost requires seeing the body of his work before attempting (though I did it the other way). Or John Waters' ode to bad taste, Pink Flamingos. It doesn't matter, Zack is never again accepting an invitation to movie night at my house. What would you put on such a list? Don't be afraid to be pretentious, but do make it something you've liked or at least respected. I might take you up on some of those suggestions!


Tony Laplume said...

I've seen Russian Ark, but haven't made it all the way through yet. The Solaris Hollywood remake is worth a look.

Siskoid said...

Soderberg's Solaris is closer to the book, but really not art house enough to confound Zack. ;)


Blog Archive


5 Things to Like (21) Activities (23) Advice (74) Alien Nation (34) Aliens Say the Darndest Things (8) Alpha Flight (25) Amalgam (53) Ambush Bug (46) Animal Man (17) anime (54) Aquaman (71) Archetypes (14) Archie Heroes (10) Arrowed (20) Asterix (9) Atom (31) Avengers (59) Awards (33) Babylon 5 (140) Batman (680) Battle Shovel (13) Battlestar Galactica (134) Black Canary (22) BnB 2-in1 (40) Books (61) Booster Gold (16) Buck Rogers (23) Buffy (6) Canada (72) Captain America (69) Captain Marvel (59) Cat (156) CCGs (63) Charlton (12) Circles of Hell (6) Class (11) Comics (4002) Comics Code Approved (12) Conan (15) Contest (13) Cooking (15) Crisis (78) Daredevil (33) Dating Kara Zor-El (5) Dating Lois Lane (23) Dating Lucy Lane (13) Dating Princess Diana (11) DCAU (404) Deadman (9) Dial H (128) Dice (10) Dinosaur Island (16) Dinosaurs (67) Director Profiles (9) Doctor Who (1693) Doom Patrol (22) Down the Rabbit Hole (7) Dr. Strange (17) Encyclopedia (28) Fantastic Four (56) Fashion Nightmares (19) Fiasco (14) Films Within Films (6) Flash (87) Flushpoint (86) Foldees (12) French (49) Friday Night Fights (57) Fun with Covers (56) FW Team-Up (37) Galleries (9) Game design (26) Gaming (111) Geekly roundup (773) Geeks Anonymous (47) Geekwear (13) Gimme That Star Trek (61) Godzilla (53) Golden Age (447) Grant Morrison (75) Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction (8) Green Arrow (50) Green Lantern (88) Hawkman (40) Hero Points Podcast (13) Holidays (241) House of Mystery (16) Hulk (44) Human Target (8) Improv (34) Inspiration (45) Intersect (5) Invasion Podcast (44) Iron Man (50) Jack Kirby (87) Jimmy Olsen (74) JLA (97) JSA (26) K9 the Series (30) Kirby Motivationals (18) Krypto (203) Kung Fu (100) Learning to Fly (11) Legion (131) Letters pages (6) Liveblog (12) Lonely Hearts Podcast (21) Lord of the Rings (18) Machine Man Motivationals (10) Man-Thing (6) Marquee (89) Masters of the Universe (9) Memes (39) Memorable Moments (35) Metal Men (5) Metamorpho (65) Millennium (72) Mini-Comics (5) Monday Morning Macking (7) Movies (458) Mr. Terrific (6) Music (73) Nelvana of the Northern Lights (9) Nightmare Fuel (22) Number Ones (60) Obituaries (42) oHOTmu OR NOT? (81) Old52 (12) One Panel (304) Outsiders (167) Panels from Sheena (6) Paper Dolls (8) Play (78) Podcast (508) Polls (5) Questionable Fridays (13) Radio (16) Rants (20) Reaganocomics (8) Recollected (11) Red Bee (26) Red Tornado (10) Reign (563) Retro-Comics (3) Reviews (52) Rom (116) RPGs (541) Sandman (23) Sapphire & Steel (37) Sarah Jane Adventures (70) Saturday Morning Cartoons (5) SBG for Girls (4) Seasons of DWAITAS (100) Secret Origins Podcast (8) Secret Wars (25) SF (30) Shut Up Star Boy (1) Silver Age (371) Siskoid as Editor (36) Siskoid's Mailbox (10) Space 1999 (51) Spectre (21) Spider-Man (100) Spring Cleaning (15) ST non-fiction (19) ST novels: DS9 (8) ST novels: S.C.E. (19) ST novels: The Shat (2) ST novels: TNG (9) ST novels: TOS (13) Star Trek (1733) Streaky (2) Suicide Squad (39) Supergirl (90) Superman (1065) Supershill (11) Swamp Thing (24) Tales from Earth-Prime (7) Team Horrible (4) Teen Titans (85) That Franchise I Never Talk About (54) The Orville (29) The Prisoner (5) The Thing (54) Then and Now (4) Theory (51) Thor (52) Thursdays of Two Worlds (43) Time Capsule (8) Timeslip (7) Tintin (23) Torchwood (62) Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms (5) Toys (65) Turnarounds (7) TV (193) V (6) Waking Life (1) Warehouse 13 (9) Websites (102) What If? (104) Who's This? (215) Whoniverse-B (11) Wikileaked (3) Wonder Woman (84) X-Files (246) X-Men (103) Zero Hour Strikes (28) Zine (5)